WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (12 – 18 November 2016)

Here are some of the press freedom- and free expression-related events and issues you might have missed last week:


Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

[Burma] Media executive and chief editor in jail over defamation charges

See also:
Burma News International (BNI)
Yangon Region Gov’t urged to revise charges against Eleven Media


[Thailand] Criminal Court dismisses mining company’s defamation case against Thai PBS

See also:
Joint statement: Call to protect public broadcaster and journalists from unwarranted prosecution



[Thailand] In mourning: The media’s role during transition


[Burma] Interview: The Current State of Myanmar Media


Southeast Asia

Freedom House. “Freedom on the Net 2016. Silencing the Messenger: Communication Apps Under Pressure

In the “Freedom on the Net” 2016 report, only the Philippines was considered free. The status of the majority of the countries in Southeast Asia were partly free (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore) and not free (Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam).

See also:
Khmer Times: “Internet Freedom Ranking Slips
The Phnom Penh Post: “Detentions dent Cambodia’s internet freedom score
Myanmar Times. “Internet still ‘not free’: report



The Jakarta Post: “Who actually needs ‘right to be forgotten’?

“While Communications and Information Technology Minister Rudiantara claims the addendum is ‘an improvement’ for ‘the previously unacknowledged rights of personal data’, this sentiment does not resonate with civilian groups. The Institute of Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) fears that the regulation will be misused, for instance by those who are running for office and hiding a criminal record — a matter of public importance. The Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) has denounced the new law as impeding press freedom as it gives the government greater authority to suppress information.”



Malaysiakini: “M’kini editor-in-chief charged over AG videos

“Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan today (18 November 2016) claimed trial in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions (Cyber) Court to two charges of airing an offensive video on the KiniTV website, which was viewed by the public.”

See also:
Free Malaysia Today: “KiniTV, top officers charged over videos on press conference” ; “Charging KiniTV severely undermines press freedom, says Surendran
The Star Online: “KiniTV and its director claim trial over offensive videos
The Borneo Post: “Editor charged amid press-freedom fears
Asian Correspondent: “Malaysian news portal editor charged over offensive videos
The Nation: “Malaysia website editor charged amid press-freedom fears


Malay Mail Online: “Suing is only way to hold media accountable, says Guan Eng

“Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today he was forced to sue some media outlets to make sure they publish the ‘right reports’…. The DAP secretary-general also alleged that some publications regularly maligned him.”



Myanmar Times: “Press council to talk with chief minister over Eleven media suit

“In an effort to get the CEO and chief editor of Eleven Media Group out of Insein Prison, Myanmar Press Council officials say they will try to persuade Yangon Region’s chief minister to withdraw his defamation suit against the two men…. Eleven’s managing director U Thein Myint wrote to the council on November 12 asking the official press oversight body to intervene.”

See also:
Memo to Myanmar’s leaders: Thick skins, not defamation suits, further free speech
The Irrawaddy. “Dateline Irrawaddy: ‘We Are People Who Provide the Public with Correct News’
Eleven: “‘Pen Myanmar’ demands all charges under Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law should be immediately dropped
The Jakarta Post: “World’s press condemn arrest of Myanmar media executives
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Two Myanmar journalists arrested on criminal defamation charges


Myanmar Times: “Accused ‘big rooster’ sentenced to two years in prison for Facebook defamation

“The Mayangone Township Court has found Ko Hla Phone guilty of defaming top government officials in a series of Facebook posts, with the judge handing down a two-year prison sentence for the offending insults…. The case was opened earlier this year by Lieutenant Colonel Soe Win Maw of the Yangon Region Command under the Telecommunications Law and other criminal statutes.”


Frontier Myanmar: “Myanmar bars, blacklists US photographer at Yangon Airport

“Myanmar has blacklisted a prominent US photographer and prevented him from attending his own exhibition about stateless people, which would have featured pictures of the persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority.”


Mizzima: “Myanmar media survey shows demand for continued reform

“Journalists put Constitutional provisions on freedom of expression, freedom of information, and media freedom at the top of their reform priorities. The News Media Law and the Broadcasting Law were the next highest priorities, a concern which has not changed since last year’s survey.”


The Irrawaddy: “Stakeholders Push for Greater Access to Information in Burma

“Burmese media stakeholders and legal experts on Tuesday (15 November 2016) stressed the need for enacting a right to information law in Burma, highlighting the failure of government organizations to provide primary information and a lack of public awareness of this right.”

See also:
Myanmar Times: “In Myanmar, ‘right to know’ legislation left lagging


Mizzima: “Women journalists numerous but still stymied by stereotypes

“Women are strongly represented in Myanmar newsrooms but few reach decision-making levels, reflecting the many obstacles they face in advancing in their professions. In Yangon, professional opportunities are growing and society is receptive to women in many media occupations, but for those working in the states and regions, options are severely limited by traditional attitudes about women’s roles and fears about personal safety.”



Philippine News Agency: “Task Force on media security submits inventory of media worker killings to President Duterte

“The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) submitted to the Office of President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday (10 November 2016) its inventory of cases of violence perpetrated upon media workers by state and non-state forces in compliance with Section 4 of Administrative Order No. 1…. This inventory will serve as the benchmark for assessing progress in each case. Developments resulting from the action of the task force will be reported in April 2017 and every six months thereafter.”


Reporters Without Borders/VERA Files. “Media Ownership Monitor the Philippines: Duopoly in the Philippine media

“Despite a high number of media outlets and being described as one of the most freewheeling media systems in the region, Philippine media continue to be owned by and to depend on the economic and political elite. Two giant broadcast networks dominate the Philippine media industry both in terms of economic market power and audience reach, which gives them a major potential to shape public opinion. Ownership structures are legal on the surface but the practice of corporate layering leads to legal contraventions related to foreign ownership and taxation.”

See also:
The powers behind media in the Philippines
Malaya Business Insight: “Who owns media?
Bulatlat.com: “The elusive freedom of the press



Khaosod English: “Court dismisses defamation suit against Thai PBS, reporter

“A court Wednesday (16 November 2016) dismissed a defamation claim against the Thai Public Broadcasting Service and four media professionals for broadcasting the report on the environmental impact of a gold mine.”

See also:
Court to weigh gold mine’s defamation case against Thai PBS
The Straits Times: “In rare win for media, Thai court throws out defamation charge brought by gold miner
Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Thai public broadcaster and staff face criminal defamation proceedings


Anadolu Agency: “27 pursued for lese majeste since Thai king’s death

“Thai police said Friday (11 November 2016) that they are pursuing prosecutions against 27 people deemed to have insulted the royal family since the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej…. The country has the harshest lese-majeste law in the world, and since the Oct. 13 death authorities have been extra vigilant in pursuing anyone deemed to not be paying respect.”

See also:
Khaosod English: “Arrest warrant out for anti-monarchy exile ‘Aum Neko’
Coconuts Bangkok. “FAIL: Thai government wants Facebook to comply with lese majeste laws, social media giant says ‘nah’
Associated Press. “APNewsBreak: Thai Website Shutdowns Soar After King’s Death



Please refer to this blog for other media, press freedom, and free expression stories not included in this roundup.

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